Imposter Syndrome, The Murky Middle, and How to Get Past Them

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October 28, 2021

Mom &… Podcast Episode 42

Guest: Christina Joy Whittaker

Show Summary

When it comes to showing women and professionals of color how to pivot and advance in the workplace, no one does it better than Christina Joy Whittaker, founder and CEO of Pivot Brand Group and the  KNOWN Live conference series. 

An award-winning business and leadership strategist and TEDx speaker,  Christina is known for empowering and steering emerging leaders toward higher impact, increased visibility and recognition, and greater career satisfaction.

We talked about imposter syndrome, as well as a similar syndrome that Christina named The Murky Middle. Christina has actionable steps to take in order to nail down your identity and start excelling, wherever it is that you want to be in your life.

Topics From This Episode (Complete Transcript Below… Scroll Down)

  • Figuring out what you are meant to do
  • Not relying on other people to validate your decisions
  • Imposter Syndrome, and The Murky Middle
  • Identity
  • Getting unstuck in your career or life plan
  • Quality rest

Resources and Links From This Episode

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Musical Notes

Our delightfully happy intro and outro theme music, “We Will Get Through This” is performed by Young Presidents, and used under license from Shutterstock.

Transcript* From This Episode

*Please note that this transcript is automatically generated through our editing software. Expect odd errors and misunderstood words. In fact, if you find a really funny one, send it to us, and we may feature it – and you – on our socials!


EP42 Christina Joy Whittaker

[00:00:00] Susanne: Welcome to the podcast. I’m Susanne Kerns, a mom and writer, LGBTQ ally, and today, a Halloween decorator finally, uh, one week I know I finally bought my first pumpkin today. I’m the worst.

[00:00:41] Missy: And I’m Missy Stevens, mom and writer, foster care advocate. And today I am also a Halloween decorator slash outdoor fall, enthusiast, um, which translates to lady who bought too many pumpkins. I have a lot of pumpkins. Should you need any

[00:00:57] Susanne: yeah. I might not need to get your overflow.

[00:00:59] Missy: Yeah, we are so happy today to have Christina Joy Whittaker with us when it comes to showing women and professionals of color, how to pivot and advance in the workplace.

No one does it better than Christina Joy Whittaker, founder, and CEO of pivot brand group, and the known live conference. An award-winning business and leadership strategist and TEDx speaker, Christina is known for empowering and steering emerging leaders towards higher impact, increased visibility and recognition and greater career satisfaction.

She has served as the go-to consultant for high profile clients, such as the NBA, the Walt Disney company in the U S department of defense. Welcome.

[00:01:36] Susanne: Welcome.

[00:01:37] Christina: the end that

[00:01:37] Susanne: is an

[00:01:38] Christina: I’m excited to be here.

[00:01:40] Susanne: Oh, well, we are so excited to learn from you, , and learn more about you. But before I know what we’re super excited to hear about is your TEDx talk and the murky middle. And then of course your upcoming known conference. But before we dive into that, , we’d love to learn a little bit more about you and the road that you’ve taken to get where you are today.

[00:02:01] Christina: Absolutely I’m once again, thank you so much for the invitation and for extending your platform of thank you for reading the bio as well. Um, my name is ChristinaJoy Whittaker and I’m a leadership and business And I want to say, I really got my start in terms of my career in big four consulting.

So right out of. Like I went from doing an internship with Deloitte consulting and then going full time into it. Right after graduation. I was of the lucky ones who did not have to apply to any jobs senior year. So I basically coasted went right into my full-time

[00:02:36] Susanne: Oh, wow.

[00:02:37] Christina: which is great.

Great. But during that particular time, , that’s when I. So much experience very quickly in terms of working with people in terms of learning my strengths, learning my skill sets, and really honing in on what I would become later on. So I like to say, I, I really cut my teeth there. , especially in terms of the profile and the types of people I was working with.

And so one of the projects that I had, the fortune of joining was, um, the TSA initiative, right. When the body scanners first rolled out. And so I was in a part of the team dealing with all of the outrage, all of the anger, everything that came as an outcry, as a response to that.

So I would have to say, I definitely got. My fair share of lessons in patience. I my fair share of lessons in facilitating difficult conversations. And from then on, I actually went back to grad school, to university of Southern California. And that’s where I found myself in the entertainment industry, working for organizations like Sony and the Walt Disney club.

And it was actually at my time at the Walt Disney company where I really started, , deciding what I wanted to do with my life in terms of my career trajectory and looking at that more. So the impact that I wanted to make, what I had realized up until that point is that in all of these roles that I was in while I was in roles, really geared towards communication and helping executives.

what I would do in my off time or at lunch breaks was really coach women. I would help them in terms of figuring out what is it that you are really passionate about in your career, how to negotiate a higher salary, how to advocate for yourself in the workplace. And so many people would tell me, you know, Christina, like you, you should do this.

And I just had no clue that it was an enterprise. I had no clue that people actually paid for the service. Cause I was like, well, just, just do what I say, you know?

[00:04:36] Missy: lunch with me and then do what I say.

[00:04:40] Christina: Um, but sometimes when you have a gift, you can’t always see it yourself. Sometimes it takes other people and interaction with other people to unlock and to speak into what you do so naturally. And that was really the case for me. And so after being in California, loving the weather, or I love having a love, hate relationship with the weather, I would say while I was over there, um, went back to the east coast, went back into consulting.

And that’s where I had my pivotal moment where, , I was in an environment that while , it was the most prestigious job I’d ever had. I had a six figure salary. I had a team working with me and from the outside, I had all the trappings of success. I really felt like a public success, but a private failure.

It just was not what I felt like I was really meant to do. And I found myself actually, having physical ramifications. As a result of it, my hair started falling out. I had panic attacks. Um, I had gained 60 pounds in a single year. I mean, everything in my body was telling me this is not working. but honestly, because I had normalized toxicity and a lot of my work environments, I didn’t even

link it to the job. I just thought it was normal. Like you just kind of put your head down, you get the job done, you overachieve overachieve. And I didn’t realize that that was the cause of it. And so, , I ended up making a really out of character decision for me when I was going for my next, , career progression, where I was offered a job.

Paid me about 25% more. And then I was offered another opportunity that paid me about 10% less. And for the hope of finding alignment for the hope of finding happiness, I ended up taking a pay cut and moving down to Atlanta, Georgia, where I still am right now working for an organization. I’m actually a school district at the time that I really.

It felt like it was going to help me tap into figuring out what impact do I really want to make. , and I would love to say that I’ve still at that organization and it’s been all hunky Dory, but no, a year later I got laid off because I ran out of money. And, um, from that particular. From that particular decision, I felt like I had a choice.

I could either go back into corporate America or I could really take a chance and develop out my business and figure out how I want it to relate to people and, and the legacy I wanted to create. And so I chose the latter and I’ve been doing that ever since being a speaker and working with women who are still looking to advance in their careers, but also feel like their story and their message can transcend the walls of their organization.

And so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

[00:07:18] Missy: I resonate with this and so many ways, because I remember having the big job with a big salary and , I should have been really happy and it moments, I was, it wasn’t like I was miserable there, but always in the back of my head, I thought this is not for me. And there were a lot of things there that. Did not align with who I felt I was.

you feel a lot of guilt and shame over saying, this is not right. And I remember walking away and multiple people saying, well, are you just going to another company and just doing, you know, doing that somewhere else. And I was like, no, I’m not doing this anymore. Like, this environment is not where I am supposed to be, but I mean, that was 20 years ago and I’m still somewhat in the murky middle.

[00:08:02] Susanne: Yes. Yes. Well, , you mentioned how you just kind of, like the boiling frog effect where , you said over the years, you just kind of become accustomed to these toxic environments. And I’ve mentioned it before in the podcast, but I had a particular client that every time I had to go for a visit, I am.

Getting physically sick. Literally, I’d be like, oh, let me just step away from the table for a minute. But like, I’d have to find a Bush or something outside it reminded me of that little guy on south park whenever you see the cute girl. But I mean, it was such an, I don’t know if it was an anxiety stress response or, I mean, my body was, there’s just no clearer way of your body saying this is not a good situation.

Like, , and so, Yeah. but I do think that. I don’t know if it’s a woman thing or if it that’s just a , a workplace thing, but you know, you think that you should be able to tough your way through it and you want to make it work and you made a decision. You feel like you need to stick with it. And, uh, and yeah.

[00:09:04] Missy: of shame attached to saying I’m not doing this anymore, but there shouldn’t be.

[00:09:10] Christina: Yeah, it definitely shouldn’t be, but I, what I found time and time again, is the biggest trap that you can fall into is expecting applause when making a decision best for you. Um, a lot of times those decisions are so contrary to what is lauded publicly, right? However, if it’s not working for you, if it’s really just not sitting well, you have to prioritize yourself and.

What is going to bring you to peace other than expecting other people to get it, especially if you’re a visionary type of person, other people, a lot of times won’t get it. They won’t see what you see and , you have to show them or you’d have to do it first for them to say, oh man, I always knew you could do it.

[00:09:52] Missy: That’s weird. Cause that’s not what you said when I told


[00:09:56] Christina: Exactly. Let’s rewind the tape a little bit.

[00:09:59] Susanne: that’s such an important point as far as like, no, one’s going to applaud you for. Doing this thing, because in a lot of cases, you’re inconveniencing them a little bit. Either you’re stepping away from a job that they need to go, you know, fill your place. Or maybe it’s a decrease in household income if you’re with a partner.

And so Yeah. that, that is tricky and, and the things that usually. Are the toxic things are the things that do get applauded. I have found, you know, that stick to it-ness and, you know, putting in the extra hours, those are the things that our society does applaud and it just, it can mess with your brain and make it even harder to get out of those situations.

So Bravo for you.

[00:10:45] Christina: Similar decisions. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to come to that conclusion.

[00:10:50] Susanne: Yeah, exactly.

[00:10:52] Missy: And we want to talk a little bit about that murky middle place and how you came to define it as that. Um, for those listening who have not watched your Ted talk, I highly recommend we’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s 15 ish minutes. Some of the best 15 minutes you will spend. And if you are a woman in the workforce, you’re going to resonate with it deeply probably.

Um, so tell us a little bit about the murky middle and what you do there and how you get past it through it.

[00:11:21] Christina: Absolutely. , I had the pleasure of giving a TEDx talk, , during the pandemic , uh, when everyone was still kind of quarantined, I knew, and I really felt like it was time for me to release this particular message, mainly because during that particular time, um, I work with a very high achieving limits.

And I kept getting the same questions and the same instances in the same occurrences over and over again. And a lot of what they were saying, paralleled my own experience, where. I distinctly know that there were times in my career journey that I struggled with the imposter syndrome. And for anyone who’s not familiar with what the imposter syndrome is, it’s the collection of feelings that make you feel as if you’re fraudulent or like a fake in some area.

A lot of times it’s in the workplace, but sometimes it’s even in your personal life. for some reason you always feel like. You’re going to be found out or that people are going to realize that you’re not as smart as you claim to be, or they thought that you were, or you’re not as qualified. You’re not as capable for some reason you don’t belong in a particular space.

I can distinctly point to instances , in my history. And so could my clients. Where I really did resonate with that persona. I resonated with that feeling I felt like I had to do a lot of work in terms of reminding myself of my skillset, reminding myself of my expertise and my gifts, in order to help combat those particular thoughts of the imposter syndrome.

But then I also know when I got into the habit and practice in and raising how I spoke about myself and how I saw myself, there was another point in my career where it’s not that I felt like I didn’t belong, or I didn’t deserve certain opportunities. That’s not what I was grappling with. However, there was still this disconnect, there was still this dissonance between me being there and me feeling like I shouldn’t be there, but I knew the route wasn’t the same anymore.

I knew it wasn’t based in a lack of self-worth or a lack of self-confidence. And instead I felt like I was really being pulled. Someplace else. And I couldn’t necessarily put my finger on it. I had visions of me, um, you know, operating in capacities that quite frankly, just weren’t aligned with my job.

They just weren’t matching up. And I’m a very analytical person. I’m a very logical person. So I’m like, okay, if one plus one is not equaling two, what is this? What, what is this? That’s like,

[00:13:48] Missy: wrong with that equation.


[00:13:51] Christina: Exactly. And so for that particular time period, it just felt one, it was frustrating, right? Because I couldn’t put words to it yet,

[00:14:00] Missy: Hm. Hm.

[00:14:01] Christina: but more than the frustration, it felt cloudy and murky.

And so I gave it the name of the murky middle, because I think While it’s similar to the imposter syndrome where you feel that that break in dissonance, or you feel that gap between where you are and where you’d like to be. It’s different in that. Um, actually someone called it, um, imposter syndrome, big sister.

And I really like that terminology

[00:14:25] Missy: do too.

[00:14:26] Christina: basically saying, you know what, We understand the imposter syndrome and system worked through some of the limited. Along with that. But now this is different. This is a distinct difference in terms of how we can go about dealing with this next path.

And so, in my opinion, feelings of the murky middle, feel as if you’re not in the right place, not because you don’t belong, but because you feel a disconnect or a pull to do something elsewhere and alignment with the deeper life’s purpose. Now, the case is a lot of women, especially moms. Right. There’s very little time to lean into that with curiosity at all.

Right? Because you have to deal with one, you have to deal with yourself, right. But then you have to deal with children. And then maybe if you’re married, you’re dealing with, um, spouses, or if you’re in a long-term relationships, however, that may look, you’re dealing with other people. And rarely do we really luxury of time to sit with that angst, and to sit with that.


[00:15:28] Missy: Hmm.

[00:15:29] Christina: really question, what is this? , why do I feel this way? I found is that there’s really two paths from it. You can choose to just sit in that anxiety and resigned to the fact that, you know what, I know I feel like I’m supposed to make a greater impact, but because I can’t put my finger on it,

I’m just going to, I’m going to discredit it and therefore I’m going to be okay with it being a thorn in my side, that particular type of resignation is incredibly prevalent because one, it shields you from any type of disappointment. It keeps you safe, right. It keeps you secure. And what you know is coming next, but it doesn’t necessarily fill that void.

Now, the other path is actually saying, you know what? I’m going to start asking those questions. And what I talk about in my TEDx talk is leading through a lens of understanding that where you’re at and that discontent does not always have to be. And that, that is not your portion in life.

That is not the plight that is assigned to you, if you don’t want it. However you can very well, accept it, but you don’t have to. Right. And so understanding that there is hope and there’s opportunity for you to lean in and fix it. Having that fixed mindset opens you up to the ability to look for opportunities, to try new things.

And it gives you more of a grace to evolve into that person that you see yourself becoming.

[00:16:51] Susanne: Oh, my gosh. I just want to cut that clip out and just play it on repeat every day. Like, you know how some people have like a fight song that they use to get ready for the day. I’m like, Nope, I just need that. need that played on a loop. That is it. Nails. Nails it, I mean,

[00:17:07] Missy: concept of not only having hope, but giving yourself the grace to evolve moms don’t do that for them. I mean, we’re learning, but moms traditionally have stayed in places where they’re not comfortable because of what you say. It’s just sometimes it’s the evil, you know,

[00:17:26] Christina: Yeah.

[00:17:27] Missy: to deal with and what might be on the horizon.

[00:17:29] Susanne: Yeah. and I think one of the reasons we started the podcast is because Missy and I determined that we had kind of been in this place where we’ve been either playing these roles or we’ve just been really concentrating on making sure our kids are in school or, safe, whatever, wherever they’re supposed to be, that you almost just lose sight of even, what is that?

So you have this feeling that this is not right.

[00:17:56] Christina: Yeah.

[00:17:56] Susanne: middle, Yeah. question of like, I don’t know what it is and letting yourself feel that discomfort and. You know, take that next step to actually just sit there and be quiet and try to figure out what it is. But I got to think you also offer this amazing service called a personal brand audit, um, which I’ve got to think.

I want to hear a little bit more about it is a big part of really understanding yourself better to be able to lean into that question.

[00:18:25] Christina: Yeah.

[00:18:26] Susanne: yourself the permission and time and space for that. So can you talk a little bit about what that looks like and even, you know, not necessarily in a job, um, even for a stay-at-home mom, uh, taking a look at what that means for her.

[00:18:38] Christina: Yeah, I think there’s so much depth and beauty in surveying what already exists and, and looking to see what have you already put out there? What do you already say about yourself? What do you already believe about yourself? And the reason why that’s so important is because , it helps you point to areas that you don’t.

Feel fit anymore. So maybe a lot of your identity has been wrapped up in, into, , mommyhood and, and taking care of your children, but maybe there comes to a certain point where they’re a little bit more self-sufficient and you might have a little bit more time, or you might have a little bit more time to discover that same identity.

with you. Right. But sometimes we don’t know what to do with it. And so, and a lot of instances just seeing, Hey, let’s see, what’s out there. How are you presenting yourself? And is it an accurate reflection of who you actually are?

A lot of times we will talk about ourselves and we diminish the way we speak about ourselves, mainly because of what we fear.

Other people will say. We fear the perception of other people, especially on social media. platforms like on LinkedIn or Instagram, we fear that if we’re authentic or we actually say what we believe, or if we, , actually like, quote unquote brag about your accomplishments, that other people will have a negative view of us.

But what I always tell my clients. You really have to prioritize the impact that you’re supposed to make over other people’s perceived judgments of you. That’s, what’s going to allow you to have that peace at the end of the day. If we continue to only give parts of ourselves or fragments of ourselves, and we know that we’re made and capable of so much more than you’re essentially lying to yourself, then you really are an imposter, right?

Because you aren’t the person that, you know, you’re supposed to be. And so truly you are embodying what it means to be a fake. You’re not being true to yourself. And so the audit helps you really start at least. I mean, it’s a very, that particular thing is like an entry level. Get to know me, let’s get on the calendar.

It cracks the shell. That’s what I consider it doing. It’s not going to give you the answers, but it will start getting you down the path of thinking, man, you know what ? I got a to Z as a result. Why am I only communicating a to B? Like, just, just for the sake of other people, it’s really starts identifying some of these toxic habits and some of these negative thoughts that we take to ourselves and we almost make pets.

We adopt them as our own when we really shouldn’t.

[00:21:14] Susanne: Oh, that’s

[00:21:15] Missy: I mean, I like, I

[00:21:17] Susanne: know. We’re like we need a 15 minute break just to get ourselves together.

[00:21:22] Missy: but I think that is just the kindest, but toughest love. That idea of cracking the shell is hard.

[00:21:33] Christina: Yeah. Yeah. There’s um, I know you mentioned a little bit earlier how , there’s so much shame sometimes associated with making a decision that, , is right for you, but might not be right for everyone else. And what I’ve found is in these conversations, It’s just the beginning of getting comfortable with that.

it’s the beginning of understanding that it’s okay if not everyone is applauding you, it’s okay. If not everyone gets it. And what’s a lot of times hardest is when, at times the people closest to us don’t get it right. Because we want to bring them along. We want to bring them on this journey, but they won’t always get it right away.

And so then your responsibility is not to, to throw it away, but instead. Weigh your options and say, how do I continue to be true to this while understanding that they might not be with me initially, but at the end, the goal is they’ll see it they’ll see it, but it takes you to make the decision to continue to go down the path, to continue walking it through because the second you abandon it, the second you let it, let it die.

You know, that’s what they’re going to hold true for their perspective of how much you thought of yourself, , how much stake you put into the vision?

[00:22:46] Susanne: Uh, yeah. I never even thought of that. It makes it that much harder. The next time. You’re like, no, this time I’m really going to do it. And they’re going to be like, oh sure you, but, and that

[00:22:54] Christina: Yeah.

[00:22:55] Susanne: puts more imposter syndrome on you. Like maybe I am not really what I think I’m going to be doing. Oh my gosh.

[00:23:01] Christina: And sometimes you might already have that trail, right? Like maybe you got struck with different passions or struck with different things and, you tried a lot of things, maybe that is your history, but , that doesn’t invalidate where you’re at. Right. And so I think something that’s just really important, especially when you’re shifting to a different level in terms of your impact is What helps us trying to pinpoint what is the transformation that you’re looking to create in other people? That’s how we see if something is going to be sustainable or not. Because typically we are crafted as individuals, not just for ourselves, right? It’s typically to help impact people and stuff.

Some way

[00:23:40] Missy: Somewhere,

[00:23:41] Christina: it could be at home. It could be your children. It could be in so many different ways, but helping to give voice to that transformation that you know, that you can provide on a consistent basis is what’s going to allow you to, to really start looking for opportunities that help feed , that narrative, rather than the, I don’t know what to do narrative.

[00:24:01] Missy: right.

[00:24:02] Susanne: Love that love that. And I, I do think that, I mean, cracking the nut, you know, starting that personal brand audit helps. , I feels like step one of getting unstuck and then there’s the, , either battling our imposter syndrome or the doubts that might be brought to us by people closest to us or, or in some cases, I’m one of those what’s.

What is it the four tendencies with Gretchen Rubin? I’m the person who the people closest to me. Like, I’m okay if they’re like, I don’t think so. It’s the random, like neighbor down the street. It’s the weirdest thing. Like I give the people the furthest away from me that Joe schmoes, you know, in the neighborhood that I only see, like when I moved my trash can, for some reason, I feel like. What they think is more important. Sometimes it’s the weirdest, most bizarre thing that Gretchen Rubin. I still remember the moment I got that. Aha. I was out moving a bunch of pea gravel in the backyard and I was like, she gets me. I’m feeling that about you too. I’m like, oh my God, you’re in my head.

[00:25:01] Missy: it’s me.

[00:25:02] Susanne: So the other parts of getting unstuck, I think there’s also the idea that time commitments and depending on what stage we are in parenting, you know, little kids obviously take a lot more time and we talk a lot about this confetti time and how. How we can get into good habits, even when the kids do take 25 hours a day, you know how instead of using 15 minutes to scroll through Facebook, can we use that 15 minutes to look and see like a Ted talk, for example, uh, on the murky middle?

Or can we use that to see if there is a conference coming up that maybe we could do virtually or even just reading an article? , so I’m just curious about when time is tight, but someone is over some of those first few hurdles about getting unstuck. How can, can they work some of these exercises into their day to day life, uh, you know, in those confetti pieces of time.

[00:26:01] Christina: Yeah. Um, that’s I think that’s a great question. And before anything, especially when considering mom’s right. Time is really tight, and I would say in those moments that you do have free first, before even in any type of process of discovery, you have to look at your quality of rest. It is very hard to take the time.

To do any self-reflection when you are fatigued and tired. you do not have clarity of thought. You don’t have clarity of space. And so what I would really look at is first start quite frankly. And I don’t say this to everyone, right? Cause not everyone falls in the mom category, but I would say, especially for moms.

Try to reclaim that time of rest. And so looking at it , to say, okay, will it actually be restful and recharging for me if I watch this Netflix series or will it be better if I go to sleep? Will it be restful and recharging for me if I take the shower? Or should I take a bath instead? Whatever it is, you know what I mean?

Really actually taking under a fine tooth and examining what’s going to give you that life or that energy or that peace, or that rest for a longer term, because that allows you to maximize that time. So it extends. So instead of doing something that actually drains you, you’re maximizing the restfulness that comes out of it.

I think that mentally allows you to be more in a space where ideas start to come. where you start seeing, and your vision starts shifting about you thinking about opportunities very differently. So, whereas maybe when you’re tired and fatigued and someone’s asking you to take on something that you might really want to do, but you’re like, no, I’m just tired.

You’re not to see it. You are not going see it. You are physically tired. However, , if you are getting quality rest and someone comes with that same opportunity, you might answer very differently where it’s like, you know what? I am kind of still tired, but I want to investigate this.

So willingness to participate, it’s a willingness to go beyond. And I also think there gets to be a time where sometimes you’re just tired of the annoyance. You’re tired of the feeling. The reason why I even got down this path in terms of speaking is because quite frankly, , I kept seeing this random vision of myself speaking on a stage and I was like, I don’t speak.

Why does this, like, why, why is this not leaving me alone? And then, you know, I registered for a conference to take that time. I’ve always been busy. I will always be busy. And while I don’t have children, myself, I am the best godmother ever. I’m amazing. You know, and so I do make time for my family. I do make time for the people around me and I worked, I was working a lot, but I said, you know what?

I’m going to devote these four days to figuring this out. And you know, I am a person of faith. So I was like, God, you’re going to have to meet me here because this is a four days I’m allotting. And I need to figure it out in those four days. And I didn’t figure out everything in those days, but cracked the shell.

It got me going. And so afterwards the opportunities when someone would ask me to speak and before, when I dismiss it, started saying, yes, I started saying, you know what, actually, yeah, I’ll do it. You know, you

[00:29:21] Missy: Yeah.

[00:29:22] Christina: things a lot differently. And so I would say, , especially for moms looking at the quality of rest but also understanding the legacy that you want to leave for your children.

You want them to see investing yourself. You want them to see you trying something that you might be really uncertain about, but understanding at the end of the day, it’s worth it. It’s going to be worth it to at least take that step. At least take that risk. At least at least give yourself the chance and hold yourself in such high esteem where you’re giving yourself that luxury to take it.

Those are the types of things you want to model for your children. And so keeping that in mind and understanding that honestly, it needs to be in inwardly motivated, but , having your kids see you do it is icing on the cake. It’s all the, it’s all the better. Right. And so, , I don’t even know if that answered your question, but

[00:30:14] Missy: Completely what’s crazy is that I feel like the universe is sending us rest. Like it’s been a common theme that’s come up lately and it’s something we’ve talked about a little, it’s something that I keep saying I’m obsessed with it because I realized that I’ve been a mom for almost 16 years now. I don’t think I’ve been properly rested in that time.

I have at times thought I was prioritizing it. I always say I’m good at listening to my body. I know when I’m exhausted, but I don’t always know how to recover. And so I’m learning that now. And it’s only, now that I’m putting together the pieces, I’m listening to you talk and I’m hearing. Things have my way in the last 16 years, I just could not see my way into or through because I was tired.

I mean, like if this deep physical bone tiredness that sets in, and if we don’t take care of ourselves, how do we expect to crack the shell and let new opportunity in when we just can’t even put words together?

[00:31:17] Christina: Yeah. Yeah.

And I think understanding the journey of the process as well. Um, I think especially in the murky middle, and just in general, especially if you’re a high achiever, you want the answer right away

[00:31:29] Missy: Yeah.

[00:31:30] Christina: priority is, rest might be our, your right away answer. It might be, get some sleep for the next few months, you know, it might not be like, oh, try this venture, try that, try this.

That’s not always how it presents itself. And so understanding, um, I think even in my life, I’m learning not to live for the punctuated points in life, but understanding how this is an elongated journey, this is a walk. This is literally a walk, right? And so understanding, give yourself the grace to evolve over time.

And knowing that even though you might be used to always being this person, who’s the supermoms, the go getter does everything that might not be what you need right now, you know? And that’s okay. It might look different.

[00:32:13] Susanne: Yeah. I love, and we talk a lot about the different.

seasons of our lives. And I think that that really kind of plays into that

idea is.

Yes, there is like, this just is not quite the time yet. As long as I don’t use, see, I would be tempted to use that as an excuse to procrastinate, but I think there’s a very, you have, you have covered it in a way that I can see that there is a very distinct difference

[00:32:35] Christina: Yes. Check it, check your motives. That’s definitely for sure.

A lot of people are very passive with this process and the thing is the passivity will get you nowhere in this process, you do have to participate. You have to take a risk and participate. Right. , but with that participation, it just may not look exactly the way you think.

I would say the life that I’m crafting right now, , had you just told me. Or just informed me what it would be 10 years ago. I’d be like, no, like I was the queen of stability. I was the queen of the 401k. I like stable. I like stability. I liked my checks every two weeks. I don’t like having to go look for leads or clients.

I would’ve, I would’ve called you a liar

[00:33:16] Susanne: Yes.

[00:33:17] Christina: that will never be me. Um,

[00:33:20] Missy: Right.

[00:33:21] Christina: in terms of, I distinctly remember in college, , this business owner came in and she showed the path to success it looked like a roller coaster. I said, oh no, that’s the path of poor planning.

That is not my life. I am only going up on a straight, straight line. so, I mean, it’s funny now looking back to see , how my mindset has evolved with it, but you know, just the same with this particular journey in this process of discovery, it is indeed that it is a process, but it does require your participation.

It requires you to say, I’m going to actually put attention to this. And if you don’t have the time, maybe investing in the time, maybe investing in a retreat, maybe a staycation, uh, in the same city of where, where you live, but just like canceling everyone out. It could look very differently for different people, but understanding that you owe yourself, the time you are entitled to that time

[00:34:16] Susanne: Yeah. And speaking of which I want to, before we jump into the look, listen, learn, learn know about your upcoming known conference, because talk about being able to give yourself the gift of that time and really saying, Nope, , I’m blocking out these blocks and I’m going to be present and I’m going to do this for me.

And I mean, just looking at the agenda and stuff, it looks like it’s going to be a power. It’s gonna be a powerful, a bunch of sessions. So can you tell us a little bit more about the known conference and if is it too late for anybody to sign up?

[00:34:48] Christina: Yes, we are still taking registering. So I would love to have you there. , the conference is really geared towards high achieving women, especially women of color, black women who are professionals, , in the workspace who are looking to advance. in their careers, meaning, that you know, where you’re at is not necessarily where you will end, but you want to up plan of how to advance, but more so than that, understanding that you have every right to be seen, be heard, be paid and be known for your brilliance and your expertise.

I think so many times we get into these cycles where hold titles as idols, right? Where we identify ourself as only a mom, we identify herself as only a director. We identify ourselves as only a wife or whatever. have you? Right. We have so many titles we whittle ourselves down to fit those boxes.

But what we dismiss is the beauty of your story. The beauty of. Experience that can transcend industry. It can transcend your organization. And so during the course of this conference, that’s really what we’re going to on. think, um, in this past year, especially because the pandemic did gift us time, right?

There’s a lot of horrible things that happened, but a lot of us had some time that we never would have gotten at any other point in our lives to sit and not do anything, not know exactly what’s happening and to start reflecting about do I like, do I like what I, what I’m doing? Do I like myself in this role?

Do I like this organization? I mean, I know I do it and you probably do it really well, but do I like it? Um, and so, um, particular conference is an outgrowth of a lot of those sentiments and an answer to what I feel like a lot of my clients needed, which was just dedicated time and space to unpack.

Those different aspects. And so we break the conference up into four components where first it’s talking about being seen, and that’s really getting to the mental health of it all navigating those particular environments and giving yourself some time and space to do that vision setting, to do that goal setting a lot of times, Until you get into certain spaces, you can’t put words to what you’re feeling.

And what I found is that when we get into spaces, like the Known Live experience that we’re creating, you start hearing a higher level of dialogue. You start hearing. Words that speak to your inner visions, that you may not have communicated, and it may sound really new to you, but also strangely very familiar because you know, you’re supposed to do it.

And so that’s, that’s what we’re really going to focus on the first half of the day, the second half of the day, we’re actually being joined by New York times bestselling author Minda Harts. It has been everywhere. She just released another book called right within. Um, but she, um, is going to join us and talk about being heard.

How do you start getting your voice out there and positioning yourself, right? Something like a podcast or, or something that really shows the outgrowth and outflow of your experience and your skillset. How are you making sure that you aren’t just a hidden cog in the wheel then instead, what you have learned in your life starts to transcend the four walls of your organization, your position, or even in your home.

Then we focus on being paid. I’m all about making money and not going broke. And so we’re going to talk about the financial literacy aspect, but also how do you use what you’re already doing in terms of like garnering sponsorships and partnerships and, and brand deals out of the outgrowth of what you already did?

I, while I don’t have children yet, I always said the second I do an Instagram account is going up. We are monetizing this. And I say that in jest, but there’s a lot of things that, um, are a lot of opportunities to get paid for what you naturally do. And so let’s look at those opportunities. And then finally, um, in terms of being known, really understanding that you have full ownership, you have every right to define what you want to be known for.

And the legacy wants to be made. It’s not just a job title. It’s not for anyone else to decide it is only yours. And so how do we really start cementing that legacy and launching in a way that’s going to allow you to, , have the platform and have the visibility, but, , also allow people to have an invitation to understanding what you believe,

and what is important to you and your thought leadership, your patterns of belief. I could care less if someone has a million followers. What I do care about is the value of what you say, what I do care about is that your depth of experience. And so that’s what we’re going to focus on.

[00:39:23] Susanne: Oh,

[00:39:23] Missy: I mean, my heart is pounding a little and my stomach flip. the idea of that. We have it’s all up to us. We have the ownership of this we can decide,

[00:39:34] Christina: Yeah.

[00:39:35] Missy: that there are people like you out there to help, because I mean, I’m listening to you say it and I’m like, yes, but I don’t know how to do it. And so I’m so thankful for you.

[00:39:44] Susanne: So now for people who do want to go, what is the best place a to find you? And then also, , where to sign up for the conference.

[00:39:52] Christina: Um, great question. So for anyone who would like to sign up for the conference, you can go to www dot, known That’s K N O w N L I V You can also find me on just about every platform I’m on Instagram. . At Christine and joy Whitaker. I also love LinkedIn. So you can look me up, send me a DM, let me know where you came from.

, and I’ll be sure to, connect with you back on LinkedIn. Christina joined Whitaker also on there on Twitter. I am not as, as good at updating my Twitter, but you can find me there as well as at the Christina joy.

[00:40:29] Susanne: And we’ll put all the links to those in the show notes to, for any case in case somebody is driving, not able to write those down Right? now.

So yeah, well we’ll have those links. So you know what, I’m kicking myself because, well, no, I’m not kicking myself because every single second of this was really valuable, but I also, you do so much work around supporting diversity in the workforce.

And we really wanted to talk to you about even moms who are not in the workforce can do that by, you know, I had a call-out on my PTA board as I was leaving one year just being like, look, look around the room, ladies, you know, y’all look pretty, y’all look pretty

[00:41:03] Missy: Pretty white.

[00:41:04] Susanne: Yeah.

Um, so I, so there’s a lot of things we can do there.

And I think that that is a conversation that I don’t want to try to rush before they’ll look and learns. And I we’d love to have you come back and actually dedicate an entire episode, , around that topic, if you’d be willing to do that. Um, so. So we will get that on the calendar because I, I really want to hear about the work that you’re doing around that making sure, especially as white ladies, that we’re doing our part making sure that we are supporting all women in the workforce and also in the PTA or, you know, in the school pickup line, wherever it may be.


[00:41:40] Missy: talked to us recently, every time I bring up something we learned on the show, I’m like, who was that? It’s just, they’re all amazing. But Lisen Stromberg.

 Talked to us about being co-conspirators and I loved it. , I think about it all the time. That allyship is one thing, but really being co-conspirators and making a difference is where we should all be


[00:42:02] Susanne: Yeah.

because she had some amazing statistics around, uh, I don’t know. They’re amazing. They were surprising and kind of gross. Um, but as far as in the workplace, how black women are primarily supported, , by white men, not white women.

[00:42:16] Christina: Yeah.

[00:42:17] Susanne: because women feel like, Oh, we’re all still fighting so much to try to get ahead.

So sorry. I’m not quite ready to stand up for you. I’m still trying to get my own, um, where as I, I don’t know. So that was a really disturbing statistic and it was very. W we really need to do better. So anyway, I think we need to have an entire episode dedicated to that. , so we’ll make sure that we get you on the calendar for that next, but we really wanted to make sure we were focusing on your upcoming conference , cause that’s coming up soon.

We, in fact, we re we rearranged some stuff in our schedule so that you are going to be running. While you’re listening to this, you’re running today, but, um, it’ll be next week so we can make sure we get as much

lead time before the conference for that.

[00:43:02] Christina: As long as, , registrations are in by, we start the November 5th. If I see your name, come by through the 4th. You’re you’re welcome. You might not have everything right away, but you will to come in.

[00:43:13] Missy: All

[00:43:13] Susanne: Wonderful. Wonderful and well, and we’ll be promoting it within our group and on our page as well, because I

[00:43:18] Christina: Thank you.

[00:43:19] Susanne: a valuable resource. All right. So I think with that, we’re ready to jump into some look, listen, learns. And just in case this is. The first time joining us the look, listen, learn segments where we all just take a couple of minutes to talk about things that either that we’ve been reading or watching, listening to, , or learning about.

 And so we don’t put you on the spot right away, Christina, and I’ll go ahead and start with mine real quick.

Um, I love this idea of signing up for conferences and really claiming that time.

It’s not something that moms typically feel like for the longest time. I didn’t do it because I thought, well, I’m not bringing any income, so, you know, why am I going to pay? And, you know, and you know, I don’t deserve it because I’m not necessarily getting any income out of it. First of all, some of the connections that you make at these conferences very much.

Pay for them, um, in the long run. But I think that it is an investment in yourself and your sanity and your skills. So I am going to be doing a virtual, , the Erma Bombeck writer’s conference. , is a conference that happens in person every two years, this time, because of COVID it got. it.

got postponed till next spring, but they are just doing a one day mini conference tomorrow.

And I am making this series. I even bought some noise, canceling curtains, my office downstairs. I should probably just do it here in the closet here. Um, but it’s. To doorways with no doors and even the dog, sometimes there’s like going from the living room to the kitchen, they just decided to come through my office.

For some reason, I’m like, this is, I don’t even know. So I bought some cheap $50 velvet curtains off of Amazon that are getting delivered today and I’m putting those up and it is going to be. Space. I’m literally claiming space, um, in my office to take that time and really soak it all up. Um, and then as far as things that I have been looking at, I have been reading cause an upcoming guests that we have, um, is Katherine Wintsch.

I think it’s. Wintsch. I’m so sorry if I’m saying that wrong. Um, but from. Uh, slay like a mother and I had to look it up in my old mom, two point of photos, but I saw her talk a mom two conference back in may, 2018. Um, I remember even though I had already had a couple of. Dove corporation sponsors the champagne bar there.

I already had a couple. I still remember just being like, I need to know her. I need to know more about what she’s doing. Um, and she was the first time, and I know I’ve heard this in some other places, this idea of, if you take a glass you take the rocks and the sand and the rocks are the things that are really, truly valuable in your life and things that are going to move you ahead.

And the sand is. Yeah. I need to go get some eyeliner for my daughter and I need to go get this and I need to go get oil in the car. we tend to put all the sand in the glass first, and then the big rocks don’t fit anymore. But if you do the rocks first that the sand just kind of feels in the spaces around the rocks and you couldn’t fit it all in there.

And I just, I, I was looking through my pictures and I just. I have photos of every single one of her slides. And of course, without her talking about them, I’m like, I don’t remember what that one is about, but as soon as I saw the one with the sand and the rocks, I was like, Yes. Cause that really just stuck with me about how we, how we manage our time sometimes as moms.

So I am really looking forward to that and really enjoying the book as well. So, uh, Christina, what about you? What do you got some look, listen, learns going

[00:46:49] Christina: Yeah. Um, I think for, for me, something that I’ve been working on internally, mainly because I’m such a practical person is really leaning into the idea of. What, what I preach myself, leading with the lens of hope and really leaning into belief. And so I, I’m almost finished with, , a book, um, been looking at by Jamie Kern, Lima, , believe it, which I loved.

It’s, she’s a billionaire founder of It Cosmetics. Um,

[00:47:22] Missy: Oh, yeah.

[00:47:23] Christina: basically her whole life story and, know, , the ups and downs, but getting rejected and going through that. And I mean, a beautiful story. So definitely had my eye on that, looking at that. And it’s very reminiscent to another book that I absolutely love.

And I talk about her all the time. Um, Marshawn Evans Daniels wrote this book called Believe Bigger. so struggling with belief and like seeing past basically your circumstance right now,

mean, I think it’s a great resource as well. , In terms of who I’m learning from. Um, this might sound really cliche, but , I would say part of my identity that I had, , really taken year after year is that of a loner.

Really got to the point where I was like, people just don’t get me. I mean, , I always considered myself. Um, and this literally would happen. You would elect me class president, but you wouldn’t necessarily invite me to a party. Right. And so I was always that person. And so, but recently, especially in the.

The years , I’ve put so much value in stock and the friendships that I’ve had, and really trying to listen to what they are speaking into this particular season in my life. And one of my dear friends, I’m Reese Dennis, she’s actually, I’m a strategist for moms as well. Like talks about mom life with her daughter and everything.

But a lot of what she says. Really touches me and resonates too, to me in terms of encouragement and everything. So she’s someone I’m really learning from looking at and seeing how she’s taking this process too, of discovery of her own. And you know, just a lot of times we need to reignite each other. So I just love that.

Um, I’m able to learn from a lot of my friends, my personal relationships in this season.

[00:49:02] Susanne: Oh,

[00:49:02] Missy: I love

[00:49:03] Susanne: I am looking her up. Okay. Terrific. And we’ll also link to her information

and the

[00:49:08] Christina: great. She does great.

[00:49:10] Missy: And that kind of goes back to being co-conspirators like we can learn from the people around us and lift each other up and pour into each other in ways where you feel like you’re lacking somewhere in your friend may have that in spades and

[00:49:24] Christina: Yes,

[00:49:24] Missy: you see that. Yeah.

[00:49:26] Christina: absolutely.

[00:49:27] Susanne: Oh, I love those. What about you? Missy? Are you look, listen,

[00:49:31] Missy: Um, yes. I wanted to Susanne and I have a mutual friend Torres, who is an incredible artist. I got this one.

Um, and I


[00:49:43] Susanne: this is remember podcasts are not a visual medium. So what are you showing?

[00:49:47] Missy: up a picture of Leigh Ann’s macaroons, macaroons. How do you say

[00:49:50] Susanne: Macron.

[00:49:51] Christina: Yes.

[00:49:52] Missy: Um, and so she recently had a pop-up show and I bought these, but I already had a picture of some cherries that I loved.

And then, oh, and Susanne’s holding up her candy corns, which I could not buy had

[00:50:06] Susanne: I already

[00:50:07] Missy: And, um, I also bought some Mandarin oranges, so I’m hanging them together. I should have brought them all in, but I’m calling it in my mind balanced. It gets two pieces of fruit. And then these cookies. So it’s my kind of how I like to live my life. Um, so I, we will put her website in the show notes, but she has some beautiful, beautiful pieces. And well, it’s still be October when this airs, I just now realized. Yeah, I think so. The very tail end of October, um, October is Leigh Ann’s birthday month. And so she has a discount, like a friends and family discount.

So we’ll put that in the. Show notes and you can go buy your own piece of Leigh Ann, Torres art. It’s all so pretty and fun. And some of it’s really whimsical and some of it’s really deep. She has watercolors and the edge just anyway. I love her.

[00:50:56] Susanne: you hungry. Yeah.

[00:50:58] Missy: these make me so hungry. I had to make cookies the other day to mine weren’t this

or like toll house break apart, chocolate chip, but they scratch the itch.

Uh, so I’m watching. You on Netflix, either of you

watch you.

[00:51:14] Christina: I haven’t seen it.

[00:51:17] Missy: I really, I debated whether or not to bring it up forLook Listen Learn because as I watch, in fact I’ve finished it this week, but as I watched it, would think, why am I watching this? I hate it, but I couldn’t stop

[00:51:31] Susanne: Now, is it the original one?

[00:51:33] Missy: um,

[00:51:33] Susanne: Cause cause there’s a new season, like a

[00:51:35] Missy: This is the, I just finished the new season

[00:51:38] Susanne: okay. Then you’d

[00:51:39] Missy: so there’s three seasons.

there’s three seasons. And, um, the main character has this internal dialogue that I find really funny. He’s twisted and broken and every, every season. Yeah, he’s a sociopath and he hooks up with other sociopath’s I guess they see each other somehow. And I mean, this last season, every episode, I think it cannot get any crazier.

I can’t believe that just happened. I think they might’ve jumped the shark in a couple places, but I couldn’t stop watching because it’s his internal dialogue is hilarious. Even though it should not be because it’s psycho. Um, but anyway, I highly recommend it if you just need a break, but also you have to be ready to handle some blood and guts.

And I mean, just

[00:52:28] Susanne: I only watched season one.

[00:52:31] Missy: so I watched it during the pandemic is when I, a friend of mine told me about it. And during that time where we would have watched anything, like I was watching tiger king and you, so it was early on. And I remember watching it and mark was in the room, he was doing something else and he kept going, what are you watching and why?

don’t know when I can’t stop. And so when I saw that the third season had come up, I’m like, well, it’s not the pandemic anymore, but I think it’s 10 episodes. Like I think I’m going to hang in there for these 10 episodes. And so I do recommend it because it is an escape, not a happy light escape, but it’s a great escape, especially this like it’s spooky season.


[00:53:10] Susanne: I’m afraid. Chris would shame me. Chris is a little too high end.

[00:53:14] Missy: Oh, mark too. Mark is like, I can’t believe you’re watching that. And I’m like be quiet. She’s about to chop that the Cleaver it’s going in a minute.

[00:53:25] Susanne: Oh, my goodness. That’s what the

[00:53:27] Missy: It was extra crazy. Season three is beyond.

[00:53:30] Susanne: Okay. Okay. So yeah, if you need a little horror show for your, for your Halloween weekend, cause yes, this will be coming out for Halloween too,

[00:53:38] Missy: Yeah, perfect for this coming Halloween weekend.

[00:53:41] Susanne: And it goes, it’s my candy corn painting. Although this is for all year round. This is just my, everybody always shames candy corn, but oh, yum.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

[00:53:50] Missy: I know. I don’t like it. I like the painting, but I don’t like candy.

[00:53:53] Christina: Yeah.

[00:53:55] Susanne: I can not buy the candy until the 31st this year because I’m doing so good and I’m trying to eat healthier. And I’ve been doing really good, even when the kids bring out the Nutella and Cheez-Its, I don’t partake. Um, and so, yes, I’m going to buy it like on the 31st at 3:00 PM and whoever our last kid is good for them.

Cause I’m just gonna go dump here. You can have the rest of it. Oh, well this has been so much fun. I’m

[00:54:22] Missy: I learned so much.

[00:54:23] Susanne: Oh my gosh. I know I got. You can tell when we’re really into it, we start taking notes on our own podcast. And I was like, no, I need to, I want to just be really present and just soak it all in.

But this is going to probably be, I don’t mean slowest editing in the bad way. I think it’s going to be like every five seconds. I’m going to have to pause, write it down, write it down. Uh,

[00:54:43] Missy: make a note about which clips we want to share,

[00:54:45] Susanne: Yes, such good information, really inspiring. And I’m so excited about the conference and the fact that you are out there and spreading this magic with more women cause I think it’s a message that it’s so universal.

Everybody needs, it don’t need to be a mom. You can be.

[00:55:02] Christina: I

[00:55:02] Susanne: Graduating from high school, and these are still things that you need to know. So I just, I’m so glad that you’re out there spreading the word and encourage everybody to go watch the Ted talk sign up for the conference. And yeah, I can’t wait to see, I just feel really exciting things coming from you.

[00:55:18] Missy: Yes. Yes. I’m glad you . Listen to that little voice and

Yes. Very much.

[00:55:24] Christina: thank you all so much. And thank you for what you do in terms of encouraging and providing this as a great resource. This is wonderful.

[00:55:31] Susanne: Oh, well, Thank you Thank

you. so much for your time today. Nice to meet you.

[00:55:36] Missy: have a great afternoon.

[00:55:38] Susanne: right.

[00:55:38] Christina: You too.

[00:55:39] Susanne: Bye-bye

[00:55:40] Missy: Bye